Earlier this month, I attended the Open Data Institute’s annual summit. I heard stimulating speakers from business, government, the arts, start-ups and charities and left buzzing with enthusiasm, inspiration and ideas. This week I’m sharing a few of my thoughts in a series of posts.
But what if you want to get in on the action and build an open business from the ground up? Below are three top tips to get you on your way.
Be the MVP
No, this isn’t a rallying cry for you to be the best right out of the blocks. Instead, identify the smallest scale at which your idea will work and develop your offer from there. This is what Svitlana Surodina, summit speaker and CEO at mobile consultancy Skein calls the minimum viable product – the MVP.
Why? Well, growing a business is both costly and complicated. And building openness into your organisation – whilst certainly worth it – takes time. It’s important to get the basics right and ensure there’s a market for your product before going full steam ahead.
Now, how to do it? Build your site on WordPress and experiment with wire framing tools to cheaply achieve the best design and user experience throughout. And think about data from the get-go. Google Fusion Tables are provide a simple way to gather and visualise data direct from the site.
Iterate to innovate
Once you’ve got the basics sorted – and have established that there is real demand for your proposition – it’s time to start scaling up. By gradually building the business, you can incorporate working data solutions at every stage, using the insights they provide to guide you as you grow.
And watch the data world. New datasets and APIs are opening all the time, ready for you to take advantage of. And of course some are closing too. As an open business you’re dependent on the wider community continuing to grow.
Don’t be discouraged. The movement has momentum. But if a dataset you rely on closes you need to be poised and ready to react – finding another dataset or adapting your business to suit. So keep an eye out for new opportunities wherever they arise – they may just keep you in business.
Cultivate the culture
Most importantly, as an open start-up you’ll have a unique opportunity to instil an open data culture within your organisation – one that eludes the competition. And with all the benefits I’ve outlined in previous posts, this could prove to be your killer app.
Many businesses are only beginning to talk about hiring a chief data officer. You won’t even need one. With a knowledge and understanding of how to really use data running throughout your organisation – and by that I don’t just mean for real-time analytics and insights, but to actually build new products and develop new ideas – you’ll always be one step ahead, unlocking innovations that your competitors can only dream of.
This is the true power of open data. And this is why open organisations will rule the future.